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Full text of "Mind's Eye May/June 1980"

The Mind's Eye 



Volume 4 Number 3/4 



NORTH ADAMS STATE COLLEGE 



The Mind's Eye is a journal of review and comment 
published four times during the college year 
at North Adams, Massachusetts 01247 

Copyright 9 1980by North Adams State College 



May/June 1980 

EDITORIAL BOARD 

W. Anthony Gengarelly 
Stephen A. Green 
R. Michael Haines 
Charles Mclsaac 
Thomas A, Mulkeen 
Ellen Schiff 

EDITOR 

Charles Mclsaac 



Richard Yanow 3 The Quality of Life Equation 

An inflated economy is limiting the horizons of 
young families 

Andrew S, Flagg 6 How It Happened that I Wrote a Book 

A college president explored his rcliremeni environment and 
found a career in the kitchen. 



VERSE 

Herschel Shohan 9 Notes on a Meeting of the Modern Language Association, 
New York City, December 1978 



BOOKS 

Maynard Seider 10 Who Gets Ahead? The American Dream Revisited 

Small Futures, by Richard de Lone. 

II'. Anthony Gengarelly 13 Light on the Obscure 

A Reader's Guide to the Short Stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne, 
by Lea Bertani Vozar Newman. 



FILMS 

Ellen Schiff 14 Betrayal and Bent: Possibilities of Being 



COMMENT 
Charles Mclsaac 2 The Editor's File 
The Crunch 



The Editor's File 



The Crunch 

IN this issue of ihe Mind's Eye Richard Yanow makes some observations on 
the effects of the current economic situation on the kind of enjoyment of life 
to which Americans have become accustomed. Maynard Seider writes about 
the doubtful longer prospect in a review of. a book appropriately titled Small 
Futures. 

In this connection there came to mind a set of questions asked last month by a 
New York Times/CBS News Poll concerning the consequences of inflation and 
recession on personal finances. Banishing the urge to bury its head in the sand, the 
editor's household decided to put the questions to itself. The answers are reported 
here, along with the poll results. 

During the last year, have you or anyone in your household . . . 

• missed payment on a bill or loan because you were short of money? 

Ed.: yes Poll: 29% yes 

• reduced the amount in your family's major savings account? 

Ed.: yes Poll: 61% yes 

• delayed moving or buying a house because of high housing or mortgage 
costs? 

Ed.: no Poll: 34% yes 

• been laid off from work? 

Ed.: no Poll: 18% yes 

In ihe last year or so, have you . . . 

• cut back on the amount of gasoline you buy? 

Ed.: no Poll: 80% yes 

• lowered the heat in your home? 

Ed.: yes Poll: 8fi% yes 

• cut back on the quality of food you buy? 

Ed.: yes Poll: 54% yes 

• cut back on vacations? 

Ed.: yes Poll: 66% yes 

• cut back on the number of times you eat out in restaurants? 

Ed.: yes Poll: 68% yes 

• or any adult in your household supplemented the family income by 
working longer hours or getting a new or a second job? 

Ed.: yes Poll: 44% yes 

With a couple of variations, the editorial household and the poll responders 
come out very much alike. The only significant difference is in gasoline 
consumption, Beinga foreign car family and being locked into a longcommute to 
both work and shopping, we have yet to budge much in this respect. But we find 
ourselves wondering about it. 

Our answers, though not unexpected, were something of a shock, not so much 
for the perceptible pinch presently felt as for what may happen as thi ngs get worse. 

— Charles Mclsaac 



2 



The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune 



The Quality of Life Equation 



by Richard Yanow 



IN A symposium held during Winter Study at North 
Adams State College five participants explored 
the meaning of the concept of the quality of life 
from the perspectives of history, sociology, economics, 
the physical sciences, and television advertising. While 
use of the term "quality of life" is much in vogue today, 
it was soon apparent that a common definition would 
elude the panel since how each discussant measured it 
depended importantly on his own values and 
priorities. 

Notwithstanding the difficulties of definition, there 
are a number of factors at work today which are clearly 
having a significant impact on the quality of life of an 
increasing number of Americans. In fact, when I was 
first approached to contribute to the symposium from 
the vantage point, of business and finance, my major 
problem was in choosing among the many factors that 
could easily and appropriately be addressed. It is 
therefore important (o stress at the outset that the 
factors on which I have chosen to locus are neither 
exhaustive of, nor necessarily predominant in, any 
given individual's quality of life equation. Nor do 1 
suggest that these considerations should be regarded as 
the sole keys to how one views his or her life satis- 
faction. They are, however, very teal influences, often 
of great immediate significance, and I believe appli- 
cable to a growing number of people. 

Inflation 

Tt is clear that the sharply rising cost of virtually all 
-'■consumer goods and services is causing shifts in our 
spending patterns as well as fueling 
anxiety about our financial well-being, 
both present and future. It is a rare 
person indeed who today is not either 
cutting bark on overall outlays or 
changing spending/savings 
patterns in line with the inflation 
psychology which impels him to forgo 
savings in order to purchase costly 
items that will cost much more next 
year. Even here, though, there is a 



Hit hard Yanow , / nstrut lor of Business Adminis- 
tration, teaches finance, investment, and market* 
ing. Prior to coming to North Adams State 
Cottege Air. Yanow ln>ed it, ,\>ii' York City, 
working for several major corporations in the 
Jirldf; of mpestrfyent and consumer marketing. 




problem, since mounting inflation will continue to 
erode the discretionary income [income available after 
payment of taxes and the purchase of necessities] 
available to follow this strategy. 

The significance of the reduction of discretionary 
income — and, with it, the concurrent increase in finan- 
cial anxiety — lies not so much in the diminishing value 
of one's present resources as in (he poor outlook for 
salary increases sufficient to keep pace with inflation. 
To get specific, one need not be a psychological or 
financial guru to appreciate fully the deep concerns of 
college faculty about their present and future financial 
well-being. An inflation rate approaching 20% in the 
setting of a college budget climate restricting salary 
increases to around 8% is a profoundly disturbing 
prospect. Further exacerbating this problem for teach- 
ers and others employed in "income-resistant" oc- 
cupations is the relative lack of upward job mobility 
(due to a variety of factors) as well as the fact that most 
have been unable to accumulate sufficient funds to 
supplement salary with meaningful investment in- 
come. An important result of all this is the pre- 
ponderance of two-paycheck families and an increase 
in moonlighting. While it is true that many find these 
jobs personally meaningful, there is no doubt that 
others are paying a high price to do all this "hustling," 
particufarly in its effect on the quality of family 
relationships. 



Family Size 

There has been a pronounced trend 
in recent years towards smaller 
families. While the decision to have 
fewer children reflects changing values 
regarding family size, there is little 
question that financial considerations 
have also played a major role. Many 
couples have simply decided that they 
can afford only one or two children, 
that to have more would result in an 
unacceptable level of overall stinting 
and financial pressure. Certainly, finan- 
cial considerations have always been a 
factor in family planning, though one 
usually pretty far down the list. No 
more. 

A related trend — similar in some 
aspects, quite different in others — has 



3 



been the dramatic increase in the number of couples 
who choose to remain childless. This has been most 
noticeable among career-oriented couples residing in 
the large metropolitan areas but it is certainly not 
limited to this group. The rationale behind this trend 
can perhaps be illustrated by looking at a typical 
example of such a couple. In their late twenties or early- 
thirties, both have "meaningful" jobs with a combined 
income of $50,000 (a very common big city figure). 
They are able to thumb their noses at inflation and lead 
the "good life." Further, and quite importantly, they 
have immense personal freedom to pursue their careers and 
pleasures with a minimum of distraction 
or inconvenience. What would the de- 
cision to have a child entail? First, the 
wife's paycheck is gone and they are 
down to$25,000-$30,000. Second, they've 
got the child-related expense. And, third, 
they face quite an emotional adjustment 
scaling down a $50,000 lifestyle to one of 
$2.5,000, particularly in a city. Add to 
these financial factors several other ele- 
ments. The wife's job was important 
personalty as well as financially. This 
reward is gone — at least typically (though 
not always) for a few years. And so is the 
ability to travel freely, to pick up and go 
as the mood strikes. 

But there is even more to it. The entire 
concept of what it means to be a whole, 
fulfilled person, to lead a meaningful, satisfying life, is 
undergoing change. I don't think there is any question 
that a major motivation in a couple's decision to have 
children has often been societal and family pressure. It 
was necessary and expected. The discomfort and feel- 
ings of inadequacy engendered by family and peers 
were frequently reason enough to prevent a couple 
from deciding rationally whether they really wanted 
children. As these attitudes slowly change, so does the 
ability of a growing number of couples to vote their real 
feelings on having children, 

Housing Inflation 

While I have already touched on some of the impli- 
cations of overall inflation, I think it important to 
single out the area of housing-related inflation for 
particular emphasis. Its ramifications tend to be quite 
striking in a number of interesting ways. To put 
housing inflation in perspective, let us first consider 
the following [actors: the price of houses has climbed 
dramatically over the past few years; the cost of similar 
homes varies significantly from one geographical area 
to another; mortgage interest rates have increased in the 
past two years from around 8J05 to 15%-I7S presently; 
simply getting mortgage money is more difficult 
(banks are requiring a higher down payment, are being 




more selective in the granting of mortgages, and often 
charge "points" which further adds to the cost); the cost 
of maintaining a home, particularly of heating it, has 
risen sharply. Now let us examine some of the impli- 
cations of alt this. 

Young Families 

Increasingly, young families are finding it finan- 
cially impossible to buy their first house. The 
problem is usually their inability to make the down 
payment. Assume a very modest home in a metropolitan 
area priced at $50,000. Even if a couple qualifies for a 
mortgage based on their income, a typical 
75% morlgage requires a $12,500 down 
payment plus closing costs (which can be 
high). Given the general inflation prob- 
lem, few have been able to save this much. 
If they cannot, or will not, borrow from 
family, they simply cannot swing il. And 
even more demoralizing, if we assume a 
continued rise in housing prices, for mosl 
the future scenario will be the same no 
matter how they scrimp and save. Given 
the traditional importance of "owning 
one's own home" in the quality of life 
equation of most people, we can see the 
emotionally frustrating result of this to a 
growing number of young people. 

Reduc tion of Discretionary Income 

T have focused on the down payment problem 
A because it is the major deterrent for most young 
people (it should be pointed out that although govern- 
ment backed FHA and VA mortgages requiring mini- 
mal down payments do exist they are not widely ob- 
tainable). The other major aspect of housing inflation 
is the high cost of carrying a home today. The 
traditional yardstick used by bankers and financial 
advisers to evaluate mortgage applicants is that a 
maximum of 25% of gross monthly income should go 
for housing-related expenses (mortgage payments, 
taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance). Recent sta- 
tistics indicate that in many areas of the country this 
figure has ballooned to 35% -10%. While sharply higher 
housing-related expenses have caused this, the will- 
ingness of so many people to opt for this burden is 
based, I believe, on two [actors. The first is "inflation 
psychology" (I'd better buy now or I'll never be able to); 
the second, the belief that to look at these costs simply 
as "expenses" belies the investment merits of the 
purchase. This relatively recent attitude has proven 
remarkably profitable in many cases. In fact, it is ironic 
that many conscientious adherents to the traditionally 
prudent 25% rule of thumb, who postponed housing 
purchases until they could "afford" it, now find 
themselves behind the housing eight ball, left in the 



■1 



dust by their more risk-taking contemporaries. 

Although homeowners are figuratively sitting on a 
lot of money, such money represents a paper profit 
which becomes real only when they sell. Thus, the fact 
remains that many people are now house-poor, with 
discretionary income so crimped by housing expenses 
that there is little left with which to live comfortably 
and enjoyably. And always close to mind, given the size 
of (heir fixed housing costs, is the realization (hat any 
significant loss of income, [or whatever reason, would 
portend big problems. 

Job Mobility 

AN article in a recent issue of the Chronicle of 
Higher Education quoted a department chairman 
at a prestigious California university lamenting the 
difficulty he was having in recruiting new faculty. 
Despite the prestige of the school and the career 
advancement the jobs entailed, the housing factor was 
predominant. It is not hard to see why. Assume the 
candidate is a faculty member at North Adams State 
College living in a house bought a few years ago with 
an 8% mortgage, and that its present market value is 
$50,000. A comparable house in California would cost 
$135,000 $ 150,000 the new mortgage interest rate would 
go to 16% — plus points, plus two closing costs, plus 
moving expenses (usually). Even throwing in a good 
profit on the sale of the house, just coming up with the 
new down payment would be very difficult if not 
impossible, never mind handling the sharply higher 
carrying costs. True, California's housing market is 
extreme; but the example is directionally similar to the 
situation in almost every major metropolitan area in 
the country. Further compounding the problem is the 
fact that faculty mobility usually results in relatively 
small salary increases, rarely coming anywhere close to 
bridging the housing expense gap. In fact, even major 
corporations — with their ability and willingness to 
grant hefty raises and absorb moving costs — are finding 
it increasingly difficult to get their managers to accept 
transfers to high housing cost areas. 

A year ago a doctor friend from Wilhamstown 
accepted a position with a hospital in the Washington, 



D.C. area. He and his wife went house hunting and 
after considerable shock and anguish finally bought a 
house for $120,000 which they graphically describe as 
"your basic house." Well, he is a doctor and we all 
know how much they make. Many working in Wash- 
ington arc less fortunate financially. Indeed, much has 
been written recently about the difficulty the federal 
government has been having in attracting good middle- 
management people due to the "bananas" housing 
market. 

It is important to emphasize that restraints on job 
mobility — and with it the reorientation of a family's 
priorities — are certainly not limited to financial consi- 
derations. Another significant factor is the growing 
recognition and acceptance of women's career aspir- 
ations, Until fairly recently job mobility in a family 
pretty much meant the husband's career moves. In spite 
of her personal feelings and trepidations, it was the rare 
wife indeed who would not go along with a move if it 
meant a promotion for her husband. And it was the 
unusual husband who considered his wife's "situ- 
ation" an important factor to be weighed in such a 
decision. That is changing, and quite rapidly. In many 
cases, moreover, the key is not the size of the wife's 
paycheck but thepersonal satisfaction she derives from 
her job and the weight this is given in the overall family 
situation. The recent movie The Seduction of Joe 
Tynan dealt quite effectively with this issue. 

Finally, there is a new emphasis being laid on other 
qualitative aspects of life. Articles in the Wall Street 
Journal and other business periodicals have cited the 
growing number of business executives w r ho are re- 
fusing promotional transfers not for financial reasons 
or any lack of normal ambition but for a variety of 
qualitative reasons. These include not wanting to 
move to areas having a harsh climate or long com- 
muting distances and a disinclination to leave good 
friends (their own, their wives', their kids*), family, an 
enjoyable community atmosphere, good schools, cul- 
tural resources — whatever. In effect, they are asking 
themselves the age-old questions, What's important to 
me? Where do my real satisfactions lie? And many are 
coming up with nontraditional answers. 



In Search of Cape Cod Food and Its History 



How It Happened that I Wrote a Book 

by Andrew S. Flagg 



Editor's Note. Andrew S. Flagg taught art at North 
Adams State College from 1937 to 1965 and finished his 
years at the college as its president from 1966 to 1969. 



Stepping down from the presidency proved to be the 
beginning of another career, for last summer Mr, Flagg 
published The Story of Cape Cod Cooking, 



5 



an unusual cookbook which sets forth recipes in the 
background of the culinary htslory of Cape Cod, 
pleasing the mind as well as the palate. The recipes are 
pleasing, as well, tocooks, one of whom has been heard 
to say, "They're so easy — and good." 

A ndy Flaggwas known and loi'ed in North Adams as 
a teacher, artist, wit, and friend. His generous human 
qualities shine through the graceful style of his book 
and illuminate his account of how it came to be 
written. 



IT all started on a beautiful day in May eleven years 
ago. I was exhilarated by the too-warm-for-May 
weather, by the fresh clear Cape Cod air, and by the 
thought that even though I loved my work I would be 
retired in a couple of months. 

I had spent countless weekends searching for my 
retirement home and, finally, arrived on the Cape. 
After enjoying the beauty of the Berkshires for over 
thirty years, 1 had promised myself a home either on the 
water or where I could see the water. It also had to be a 
home where I could live with little more 
than a screwdriver and a tack hammer- 
no lawn mowers and snow shovels for 
me, 

A newspaper advertisement brought 
me to the Cape on that weekend to look at 
an apartment. The ad was very ordinary 
and mentioned the usual "wall-to-wall 
carpets, security, privacy," just like so 
many others 1 had read. But this one 
ended with the statement that the apart- 
ment was "naturally air-conditioned by 
the breezes from the Cape Cod Canal." Remembering 
how I had enjoyed those breezes — and many other 
things about the area — during my younger years, I 
think I knew I was heading home as I drove into the 
parking lot. Within ten minutes I had signed a lease 
and the search was over. 

A short while later I was in a fine nearby restaurant 
feeling that the world was a wonderful place and 
thinking how glad I was to be in it. As I sat contented- 
ly sipping a well-chilled martini, I noticed that the 
back of the menu contained a list of statements 
regarding Cape Cod. One of them caught my eye. It 
said that the Cape Cod Canal was "the busiest canal in 
the world." I remembered lite great number of ships I 
had seen waiting for passage through the Panama 
Canal and wondered. Could this be true or was it only- 
Chamber ol Commerce talk? At that moment my 
dinner was served and my thoughts were directed to 
some beautifully cooked fish which seemed more 
worthy of my attention. 

Four or five months later I was sitting on the deck of 
my new apartment. (They are always called "decks" 



here — never porches or balconies— just decks). As I sat 
watching the two-way parade of vessels passing before 
me — little bobbing pleasure craft, graceful sailboats, 
fishing boats, gleaming white Coast Guard cutters, 
tough stubby tugs hauling clumsy barges, freighters 
surrounded by an air of mystery much thicker than the 
scarred paint on their battered hulls, and tankers 
named by their corporate owners after states or ani- 
mals — I thought about "the busiest canal in the 
world." 

The next day, still curious, I visited our local library 
and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters 
from where all the traffic passing through the Canal is 
monitored and controlled. I returned home with maps, 
tide tables, pamphlets, folders, and reports along with 
notes I had scribbled in the library. I also had a few 
books which mentioned the Canal, f not only learned 
the number of craft and the tons of shipping which 
passed through the Canal in a year, but I was surprised 
to read that Myles Standish and Governor Bradford had 
suggested constructing a canal here soon after the 
Plymouth Colony was established and that George 
Washington had authorized a feasibility 
study of such a project. This canal was 
becoming very interesting and was cer 
tainly worth more study. 

I read everything I could find pertain- 
ing to the Canal. But, after reading a 
chapter or section about the Canal, I 
invariably browsed through the rest of 
the book and gradually became very much 
interested in the whole story of Cape Cod. 
After reading about a location it was only 
natural to want to sec it, so I began tovisit 
places all over the Cape. My life became a series of easy 
(rips to barren beaches, old dwellings, cemeteries, 
harbors, shipyards, and other historic sites. Everywhere 
I went I found things I wanted to remember, so I began 
scribbling notes on various odds and ends of paper. 
These happy ramblings were all enjoyed without plan 
or purpose and the notes were about anything which I 
found of interest. 

TTWALLY, after three years of this aimless collecting of 
Cape Cod trivia I decided, in a rare moment of 
ambition and good sense, that I would have either to 
organize or dispose of these accumulating scribbles. I 
hesitated momentarily for fear that the shock of finding 
my desk in a neat and orderly condition might prove 
too great a surprise for my cleaning lady, and I knew I 
couldn't get along without her. But I sorted and saved 
and eliminated, showing great generosity toward the 
waste basket. 

The pile of notes on the Cape Cod Canal was 
extensive but I found that some of the other piles, 
temporarily classified as Interesting People, Historic 




6 



Sites, Customs, Industries, Home Life, and soon, were 
surprisingly large, And I noticed that, scattered through 
nearly all of these categories, were memos relating to 
food. So I sorted again, this time establishing a pile 
labeled "Food". 

The more I considered the subject, the more inter- 
esting the topic of food became. I was fascinated to 
learn the Indians knew the word chowder a hundred 
years before the Pilgrims landed. They had learned it 
from the Portuguese fishermen who came each summer 
to Cape Cod where they caught and salted fish. It. was a 
mispronunciation of the name for the big kettle in 
which they cooked their meals. It interested me, also, to 
find that beans were traditionally baked on Saturday 
because it was not permissible to cook on the Sabbath; 
so beans, bread, andother foods which could simply be 
warmed tip filled the oven on Saturday. 

Questions began (o arise. Like so many other young- 
sters, I had been allowed to grow up without distin- 
guishing between Pilgrims and Puritans and I was 
surprised and a bit shocked to learn that the Pilgrims 
consumed great amounts of ale, enjoying it even at 
breakfast. Why was the Ale Master so important? How 
did they get along without milk during those four years 
before the first cow was brought here? Why did so many 
old cookbooks contain recipes using bananas? What 
was "Cape Cod Turkey"? These and many other 
questions, though not vital in any way, led to many 
interesting hours of searching for answers. 

One evening I was telling friends of some of the 
answers f had uncovered. One of the children who had 
been listening with open-mouthed attention said, 
"Gee, Andy, I've got to do a project on the Pilgrims and 
I think I'll do it on their food. Even my teacher doesn't 
know any of that stuff you've been telling us. You 
ought to write a book". Silly kid! What a 
ridiculous idea. Me write a book? The rest 
of the family patted the youngster on the 
head and declared he had a wonderful 
thought. The father turned to me saying, 
"He's right. You really should, Andy". I 
laughed it off and said something like, 
"Maybe, some day." 

T^Kt ni imu after that evening I would 
find myself thinking that this fact or 
that story would be good in a book. Then 
the thoughts were changed to the book 
and, at last, to my book. The work began in earnest. 

The concept developed of a cookbook which would 
tell the story of the background of a recipe as well as the 
ingredients; it would explain the "why" as well as the 
"how." Once I knew where 1 was going and how I 
wanted to organize the book, work progressed rapidly, 
most alwithout effort — except for the pounding of 
typewriter keys. Most of my homework had been done. 




Everyone who knew what I was doing wanted to 
help. I had offers of old family heirloom recipes, advice 
on who could tell me about one kind of food or another, 
and even delicious samples. 

I was searching for more material for the Finnish 
chapter and called a lady who operated a restaurant and 
was well known for her Finnish food. She said she 
would be delighted to talk with me and asked if I would 
like to visit her thai afternoon. The restaurant was 
closed for the winter so I went to her home and, as I 
entered, was greeted by the warm aroma of freshly- 
cooked food. There was still-warm bread, marinated 
herring, air pudding, and many tastes of her favorite 
dishes. She kept saying, "Now try this," as she told me 
about the food and how it was made. She gave me lots of 
recipes and told nre where I could find others. 

And that is (he way it was. Enthusiastic help and 
encouragement came from everywhere. I couldn't have 
stopped if I had wanted to. When the first completed 
chapters were passed around (or friends to read they 
were returned with more encouragement and en- 
thusiasm. 

Everyone was satisfied except me. As I read and 
reread each page again and again, I found things to 
change, things to add or omit, things to correct and 
improve, more work to be done. Just as the old recipes 
used to say, "Cook it until it is done," I was now 
rewriting every page until it sounded right, until it was 
"done." 

After a vkar of this tedious and often discouraging 
rewriting, I decided that I had done about all I 
could. Good or bad, it was finished! I had the several 
hundred pages typed by a professional, wrapped them 
up, and sent them off to one of the biggest and best 
publishers I knew of. 

Then I began thinking of what would 
happen next. I wondered what a rejection 
slip would look like. Was it a printed 
form — cold, heartless, and impersonal? 
What color would it be — pink, blue, or 
green? How would I feel when it arrived? 
When would it arrive? I waited, and I 
steeled myself for the worst. After all, 
what did I care? I had no intention of 
writing a book in the first place. It was 
just something [o do in my spare time — 
just a suggestion from some little kid. 
Then it arrived — my first rejection slip! And what a 
surprise! It wasn't a slip at all but a long, friendly, and 
very constructive letter signed by the vice-president in 
charge of sales. He explained that the manuscript was 
"cumbersome" and needed careful "shaping and trim- 
ming." He added that although it was "very definitely 
publishable" it would not be appropriate for his 
company to consider publishing it "at this time," 



7 



explaining ihat they already had published a great 
many cookbooks and, since mine was a regional book, 
it would keep only one salesman busy. He ended by 
commending me on the concept of the book and the 
obvious research I had put into it. 

Hey, if rejection slips are all as constructive, friendly, 
and helpful as that, I vowed I wouldn't mind getting a 
dozen. I didn't receive a dozen — only six — and they 
were all about the same, but shorter. In one case, I was 
surprised to receive copies of the readers' comments. 
For a little over a year, the manuscript was sort of 
forgotten. It had been given the prescribed "shaping 
and trimming" and had been shipped here and there. 
Now, still in its battered box, it just rested on the shelf 
of my bookcase. 

One day my cleaning lady asked xvhat I intended to 
do with "that package" on my bookcase. I knew by the 
way she said it that she would like to throw it out or, at 
least, get it out of the way. That same evening a friend 
called to suggest that, if I hadn't done anything with 
my manuscript, I should try an agent. He also told me 
that, for a person as lazy as I, an agent who would do all 
the legwork was the only answer. The idea appealed to 
me! 

Then it all got rather funny. The agen t, who ivas said 
to be a specialist on Cape Cod material, just didn't seem 
to understand why I included background material. 
"Why can't you separate it and make one book of 
narrative and one of recipes?" he asked. One day he 
called and said excitedly, "I've got a great idea! It might 
be feasible to publish your material in magazine form, 
chapter by chapter. Perhaps we could convince a bank 
or market to subsidize the publication and use the 
volumes as a promotional gimmick. Not interested! 

Another call I received was from an unknown man 
who must have gotten my name from the agent. He 
explained that he was a successful publisher of spiral- 
bound cookbooks which church and auxiliary groups 
used as fund raisers. For a price he would be happy to 
publish my bookand I would "be Tree" to sell them as I 
wished. Definitely not interested! 

The manuscript was returned to its place on the 
shelf until one evening when I was havingdinner 
with friends. One of the gentlemen had been very busy 




since his retirement and had published a number of 
articles and short stories. He had participated in the 
Cape Cod Writers Conference for several years and was 
acquainted with a number of publishers as well as 
authors. He knew "just the person for me" and gave me 
the name of a man who specialized in publishing books 
about Cape Cod. He told me that this man was highly 
respected by local booksellers as well as authors. 

The publisher read my manuscript, liked it, and said 
he would be glad to add ii to the collection of popular 
and authoritative hooks he had published. Within six 
months the first copies of The Story of Cape Cod 
Cooking were delivered and, three months later, we 
were in our second printing. 

Between the efforts of Bill Sullwold, (he publisher, 
and a few enthusiastic friends, my peaceful, relaxed 
way of life was completely shattered and I found myself 
involved with newspaper, TV, and radio interviews — 
even the awesome task of demonstrating the pre- 
paration of one of the recipes from the book during the 
allotted eight minutes on a popular Boston TV talk 
show. The owners of my favorite restaurant put some of 
the dishes from the book on their menu and sold over a 
hundred copies for me. I packaged and mailed six 
hundred copies from my once tranquil apartment in 
ten weeks. In the meanwhile. Bill was selling copies 10 
every bookstore on the Cape. People were not only 
buying and reading the book, but they were buying 
extra copies for gifts. 

I have to admit thai it was all very exciting. I must be 
honest too, and admit the thrill I felt when I saw a huge 
stack of two hundred copies at the very front of the 
display in the Cape's largest bookstore, I will confess 
that the first time I saw that great pile of books with my 
name on them I loitered in the area for a couple of 
hours secretly watching people buying my book. 

The future looks pretty busy , too. Since I was dubbed 
a culinary historian by one reviewer, I have been asked 
to talk at several historical society meetings during the 
coming months. There are several autograph parties 
scheduled for this summer on the Cape and the Islands, 
and the program for this year's Writers Conference lists 
me as a panel member for one of their sessions. With an 
ad appearing in the April issue of a national magazine I 
fear that my living room will become a shipping 
department — and I, the clerk. 

Readers have raised a number of questions regarding 
a second, expanded edition, a hard-cover edition, and a 
second book. Maybe I will have to start working on 
another of those piles of notes! As 1 contemplate the 
coming summer I see less and less time to enjoy sitting 
on the deck and watching the ships go by. Watching is a 
much more pleasant pastime than writing, but who 
knows...? 

(By the way, the Cape Cod Canal is the busiest canal 
in the world, with almost 15,000,000 tons of shipping 
and nearly 35,000 vessels passing through last year.) 



8 



Notes 

From a Meeting 
of the 
Modern 
Language 
Association 
New York City 
December 1978 

by Herschel Shohan 



Herschel Shohan is 
Assistant Professor of English 



Again we gather in a sepia city. 

We meet, embrace, make our news, news. 

Wave to faces we know, hallo across lobbies 

Walk the floor plan of the Hilton into our shoes. 

Ascend to your room, my room 

Cantilevered over winter boulevards. 

All the world's a classroom, 
And we teach. 

Here on this dove-gray carpet neutral 

As the sky we make the bland signs that assign us 

Correctly to our places. The polished pendants 

Of the chandeliers, the wall mirrors 

Reflect us suitably, we think. 

(Above us the Calder mobile moves and moves.) 

By the Up escalator, I try to avoid 
An old acquaintance. But be sees me 
And we nod. 

The warm young woman in the oatmeal-textured skirt, 

Once my student, 

Passes in the crowd, disappointed, 

Others take her place. In the pale ill-attended 

Meeting rooms we read and discuss the papers 

Arranged in the usual parquetry of sessions, hours. 

And interchangeable compositions of waiting chairs, 

Tile subtle audience sits two rows away, 

Amiably abstracted. In a cigarette haze 

The patterns betray themselves in the old ways. 

The city outside is a procession of screens. 

The voice from the lectern reaches me through the white air. 
I am the bearded man in the corner chair 
Being attentive. 
Nervously 

We fold back the upper left corner of our first page, 
Clear our throat and begin. 

Or press through the revolving door, late as usual, 
Carrying the ice wind from the avenue 
In the folds of our astrakhan. I notice later 
In the amber light of the Gold Room 
The tooth's saliva gleam under the mustache 
As you talk. 

Bemused, I see the new veins 

Under your eyes. We are disconnected; 

I leave you at one party, find you twenty floors higher 

At another 
The last one at the cash bar. 
Later, alone under the slant escalator 

I lose myself by the ficus benjaminus: 
The sky -gray carpets lead nowhere 
The Grand Lobby dissolves. 

But morning is coming 

I sense its first light behind the heavy curtains. 
Here in this hippopotamus haunch of a sofa end 
I am a young man who dreams. 



Books 

Who Gets Ahead? The American Dream Revisited 

by Maynard Seider 



Small Futures: Children, Inequality, and the Limits 
of Liberal Reform, by Richard H. de Lone for the 
Carnegie Council on Children. Harcouu Brace Jovano- 
vich, 258 pp., $12.95. 



R chard de Lone, a former policy analyst for 
(he Carnegie Council on Children, has writ- 
ten a provocative if uneven hook debunking 
the American dream of upward mobility, The author 
covers some familiar ground in documenting the 
failure of the dream as well as tire collapse of a number 
of liberal reforms that promised so much; and he notes 
the attack on the poor which ensued when the reforms 
fizzled out — an attack which William Ryan, in an 
earlier book, dubbed "blaming the victim." De Lone 
makes his major contribution in analyzing the develop- 
ment and role of liberalism, an ideology which influ- 
ences almost everything from major American goals to 
current psychological research. In the end de Lone 
comes perilously close to "blaming the ideology" as the 
single source of inequities in American society. 

Ironically, de Lone is at his best, and clearest, when 
writing on the often fuzzy area of ideology. When he 
turns his attention, as he must, to the hard facts of 
social class and social structure, the clarity and logic of 
his work suffer. How much of this is due to the writer 
and how much to the predilections of the Carnegie 
Council on Children, and to the process of producing a 
book by committee, is an intriguing question. In his 
foreword, Kenneth Kenision, chairman and director of 
the council, tells us thatSma// Futures formulates ideas 
which both "emerged from and influenced the 
Council's thinking" and that the book has been 
"greatly modified to take account of suggestions by the 
Council; and in its final form it has been approved by 
Council members." Despite legitimate reader fears of 
what the result of that process might look like, Small 
Futures has survived in a form that indeed deserves our 
careful attention. 

De Lone begins with a comparison of two second 
graders, each bright and attentive, both with IQs 
slightly better than average, but who are from vastly 
different class backgrounds. The likelihood of future 
occupational success for Bobby, a successful lawyer's 
son, is much greater than it is for Jimmy, the son of a 



Maynard. Seider, Assistant Professor of Sociology, is 
completing a book entitled A Year in the Life of a 
Factory to be published by Singlejack Books. 



high school dropout and part-time messenger and 
janitor. Here, as throughout the book, de Lone cites 
studies which support his arguments. One such study 
—applicable to Bobby and Jimmy— found thatamong 
children of the same ability level those from the top 
tenth of the socioeconomic hierarchy were twelve times 
more likely to finish college than those from the 
bottom tenth. These findings are indicative of two 
basic phenomena which de Lone comes back to time 
and again; there is great inequality in the U.S., and it 
persists despite repeated attempts to improve oppor- 
tunities. 

'"p'ttR inequality itself, the poverty amidst riches, is 
not so much the issue. No American president, 
from Washington to Carter, ever promised us equal 
wealth. Equality of outcome is not on the agenda of the 
United States. What we are promised is equality of 
opportunity. Everyone, even those of low status at 
birth, can rise to the top. One's own abilities are the 
key, and the door to opportunity will open to those 
qualified to pass through. As Woodrow Wilson pro- 
claimed, "No man is supposed to be under any 
limitations except . . . the limitation of his character 
and his mind" (emphasis de Lone's). 

Now, if such opportunity truly exists, why does 
family socioeconomic status make such a difference, 
even for youngsters of the same ability levels, such as 
Bobby and Jimmy? De Lone answers by questioning 
the premise. He argues that equal opportunities do not 
exist. And he goes further. Attempts to raise such 
opportunities through social reforms have generally 
failed. So reads the record of the past. Moreover, the 
future promises more of the same. Given the amount of 
structural inequality in the U.S., attempts to improve 
equality of opportunity simply cannot succeed. No, 
Virginia, the American dream does not work. 

De Lone uses data on the maldistribution of income 
and wealth to demonstrate the extent of structural 
inequality. The top 20 percent of all families receive 
over <10 percent of net income while the bottom fifth 
receive about 5 percent. For wealth, the picture looks 
even bleaker: the top 4 percent own 37 percent of all 
wealth while the bottom fifth own nothing. These 
figures describe a society neither middle class nor 
affluent, with more than a few pockets of poverty. The 
poor, who are still very much with us, include more 
than 2ft percent of all American children. 

The prospects for their upward mobility aredim. De 
Lone presents a host of historical and sociological 



10 



studies which suggest (he following conclusions: a) the 
probability of mobility in the U.S. has remained about 
the same since the middle of the nineteenth century; 
b) mobility from generation to generation is sparse, 
and tends to be restricted to just a few rungs up or down 
the ladder; c) the influence of parental social standing 
on children's careers has not changed since World War 
I; individual effort and achievement, the stuff of the 
American dream, has allowed only 20 percent of 
American males to surpass their fathers; d) finally, and 
significantly, belying the belief in American exception- 
alism, mobility in the U.S. seems no more fluid than in 
other industrialized countries. 

Yet we hold onto our beliefs, keep 
trying, and blame the poor for their 
continuing misery. Why? De Lone points 
to liberalism, his choice of villain in this 
socioeconomic whodunit- For de Lone, 
"the contradictions in the liberal tradi- 
tion are exactly what cause the repeated 
failure of many of our best-inteniioned 
public programs." 

■""[""■HE LIBERAL TRADITION — not to be 
confused with thai term's popular 
usage today — refers to a body of ideas 
which emerged in seventecnth-and eighteenth- 
century Europe. Developed in the political writings of 
John Locke and the economic work of Adam Smith, 
liberalism found fertile soil in this country. Its main 
ideas are simple: the individual is primary and has 
inalienable political rights along with economic prerog- 
atives; the individual's pursuit of bis self-interest will 
benefit himself as well as political and economic 
institutions. In this, the best of all possible worlds, the 
individual and the society advance together. 

After listing its precepts, de Lone can hardly wait to 
attack the assumptions and consequences of liberalism. 
In viewing society as a collection of individuals, 
liberalism ignores the power of classes, institutions, 
and culture. Its political side engenders equality while 
its economic tradition brings vast inequality. 

Despite its faults, or perhaps because of them, 
liberalism has become the dominant ideology in the 
West. Not only has it supported and rationalized a 
growing mercantile and industrial capitalism, but its 
values are called into play to boost the reforms which 
emerge from time to time. From that perspective, de 
Lone analyzes reform movements from the Jacksonian 
era to the Great Society. 

During the 1830s the ideology of liberalism called for 
rapid economic growth and individual opportunity to 
advance. Governor Edward Everett of Massachusetts 
spoke of the "constant operation" of "the wheel of 
fortune" where "the poor in one generation furnish the 
rich of the next." In a theme to be repeated over and 
over to this day, the school was to be that avenue of 




mobility. Instead, wave after wave of immigrant 
children learned obedience, respect for authority, and 
punctuality in the common school, values which the 
industrialists and schoolmasters hoped they would 
bring with them to the textile mill and shoe factory. 
The ideology persisted to the Progressive era, and the 
even greater number of poor and working class children 
then found themselves subject to the new forms of 
testing which psychologists had developed. Although 
the tests and subsequent placement promised individ- 
ualized treatment, a hallmark of liberalism, the biases 
built into such tests as the tQ guaranteed inferior status 
for the lower classes. 

The schools serve as good examples of 
those reforms which, as de Lone so aptly 
puts it. offer "help that hurts." Strong 
class, racial, arid ethnic biases pervade the 
American school, affecting everything 
from standardized tests to the decisions of 
guidance counselors. Consider the follow- 
ing facts: a) 90 percent of children diag- 
nosed as retarded have no organic handi- 
cap but suffer from low socioeconomic 
starn.s; b) 10-15 percent of American child- 
ren are full or partial school dropouts, are 
misclassificd, or are "educated in the 
juvenile justice system"; c) student social 
class is a better predictor of academic and career success 
than is IQ or aptitude. Clearly, schools stigmatize 
many poor children by tossing them out or by placing 
them in nonacademic tracks. And those who make it 
through the barriers still find roadblocks awaiting 
them in the job market. Woodrow Wilson notwithstand- 
ing, ability cannot make up the difference, 

The end result of (ailed liberal reform has been 
victim-blaming. If the glowing side of the Amer- 
ican dream is "the sky's the limit" and "full steam 
ahead," an equal chance for each individual, the flip 
side attributes failures to individual shortcomings. 
Victim-blaming led to genetic theories of inferiority in 
the nineteenth century and to the eugenics movement 
and the restrictive immigration legislation of the 
Progressive period. Similarly, the Great Society 
brought with it not only theories of " cultural depriv- 
ation," but a revival of racist interpretations of low IQ 
scores and the new sociobiology. 

Some reforms have been beneficial to the poor — 
Headstart, Medicaid, and higher Aid to Families with 
Dependent Children (AFDC) — while others have been 
double-edged. The juvenile justice system at the turn of 
the century, for instance, separated children from adult 
offenders, but it also saddled youth with such new and 
vague offenses as truancy, loitering, and incorrigi- 
bility. And through the liberal attempt to individualize 
cases, the juveniles lost the constitutional due process 



II 



guarantees which adults possessed. 

Why has thai contradiction stayed with us? Basically 
because liberalism, a "misguided" ideology, has so 
powerfully affected our values, our theories, our be- 
liefs, and our very psyches. It is almost as if this 
ideology, by itself, has kept the present structure intact. 
Then, one might logically conclude, if we somehow 
straighten out the ideology, we could produce a more 
equitable structure. De Lone does not take it quite this 
far but his singular emphasis on ideology gets him 
into some trouble. 

Primarily, hetends to ignore power and class relation- 
ships. He forgets that the dominant function of an 
ideology is to maintain the status quo. Liberalism has 
certainly helped to do that, but not because it has been 
misguided, ft is rather well guided in support of a 
system guaranteeing privileges for relatively few. 

The very policies that de Lone quite correctly sees as 
bringing us closer to equality— full employment and 
income redistribution— are those policies that the 
upper class has fought against with great skill and 
determination. Should weexpect them to change now? 
No, not unless we put our hopes in the logic and clarity 
of a good persuasive argument and ignore the reality of 
class power. Unfortunately, de Lone chooses to do just 
that. In his final chapter he suggests a number of 
welfare, tax reform, social service.and full employment 
policies. He computes the cost, of the programs and the 
benefits for the poor. He shows, for example, that we 
can deliver more money to the poor by removing the 
multitude of exemptions benefiting the top fifth of all 
income earners. The simple result would be a transfer 
or funds and would not cost the government anything. 
"The obstacles," de Lone writes, "are not basically 
economic" (his emphasis). What they are he leaves 
vague. But, no matter the reasonableness of the au- 
thor's arguments, neither the Social Register elite nor 
the Business Rotindtable want full employment or a 
redistribution of wealth. 

If de Lone stands guilty of ignoring the tenacity of 
the upper class in pursuing its interests, he com- 
pounds thai error by expecting the government to exert 
its power on behalf of the poor. A close analysis of the 
relationship between the upper class and the federal 
government gives short shrift to that hope. One could 
begin by looking at The Powers Thai Be, 
by G. William Domhoff, the latest in his 
empirical investigations of the upper 
class. Here Domhoff describes the "proces- 
ses of ruling class domination in Amer- 
ica," In case after case, the very rich and 
then* corporate representatives are shown 
influencing the candidate selection pro- 
cess, controlling policy-making organ- 
izations, moving their special interest 
legislation along, and spreading their 



probusiness ideology. Whether one focuses on the 
social backgrounds of high government officials or the 
policies they push, in either case the poor remain 
unrepresented. 

Finally, and significantly, de Lone fails to see the 
poor and the working class as capable of forcing 
changes themselves. They tend, in his view, 10 be 
objects of history, never subjects. But one may argue 
that just as class, as a relationship, helps explain the 
power wielded over the poor by the upper class, the 
same dynamic helps to explain how the poor can influ- 
ence the upper class and the government. When 
reforms come about, it is not primarily because a few 
middle class progressives push for it, as de Lone 
stresses, but because the poor and the working class 
fight for it. 

TV Towhere is this process better described than in Poor 
' People's Moivrnents, by Frances Fox Piven and 
Richard Cloward. Examining the role of political 
movements — unemployed councils, industrial work- 
ers' sit-down strikes, (he civil rights movement, the 
welfare rights movement — in the period from the Great 
Depression to the Great Society, Piven and Cloward 
conclude that the poor make gains by the power of 
disruption. Disruption has historically forced private 
reformers and local public officials to press for national 
reforms, and with some success; victories have been 
won in union recognition, voting rights guarantees, 
and greater AFDC benefits, to name a few. 

The poor can begin to push for change only when 
they reject the dominant liberal ideology, when they 
refuse to blame themselves for their economic problems 
and realize that they cannot advance as individuals. 
They must, in a word, reject liberalism. They become, 
in the eyes of the powers that be. a dangerous class 
precisely when they change their consciousness and 
seek collectively a solution to a system-wide problem. 

An analysis based on class dynamics only adds tode 
Lone's message: equal opportunity to advance is im- 
possible so long as the basic structure is unequal. What 
this means, though de Lone never says it, is that a 
powerful upper class fights hard with its wealth, 
corporate power, ideological dominance, and political 
control to stay on top and to guarantee a spot lor its 
own younger generation.* The poor and 
the working class can move only so far 
because the higher they aim, the narrower 
the pyramid becomes and the greater the 
barriers they face. Only during those 
rebellious times in American history, 

•Harvard undergraduates underscored this point 
wliert, in the last quarter of a losing game with the 
University of Massachusetts football team Litis past 
fall, they chanted: 'Volt may be beating us now, bill 
in a couple of years you'll be working for us." 



12 



particularly the 1930s, when those on the bottom reject 
liberalism— and I he validity of the pyramidal structure 
it implies— are they able to make some gains. 

On the whole, de Lone has written a helpful book. 
Social scientists and humanists will find his exposition 
of liberalism well done and his critique of child 
development research and policy thought-provoking. 
And he has skillfully and empirically exposed the myth 
of the American dream. 

T~\ e lone and the Carnegie Council on Children have 
been concerned primarily with America's children. 
Let me conclude by turning lo their older sisters and 
brothers, the students at our state colleges. What does 
the end of the dream mean for them? First, many of our 
students still cling steadfastly to the "wheel of fortune" 
and perceive the college diploma as entree to the higher 
echelons. This is not to say that the degree, even as a 
paper symbol, is not useful. Without it, these young 
people would fall back. With it, they can stay in place, 
continually moving forward just to stay even. So the 
sons and daughters of machinists, postal workers, and 
typists will graduate to become data processors and 
accountants, civil service clerks and medical techni- 
cians, They may possess a bit more prestige than their 
parents, but their standard of living and lack of power 



will be the same. A few will become managers and 
professionals, but just as many lace the work bench, 
underemployment, or no job at all. 

To those graduates who do move upward, the state- 
college program will of course seem successful. Ii will 
appear to be a success as well (o many onlookers in 
government, industry, and education to the extent that 
it satisfactorily serves the needs of the private sector. 
But for others, including many students, failure will be 
the verdict. The colleges and the students alike will be 
blamed: "They're not good enough" — "We're not 
smari enough." 

What can we as teachers do at a time when jobs for 
our graduates are not plentiful and good positions art- 
even more scarce? One choice is to perpetuate the 
American dream, pass i! on to our students and wring 
our hands and blame the victim when the results come 
in. Or wecanchoose to remember therootmeaningof a 
libera! arts education — to liberate — and try to free 
ourselves and our students from outworn myths. This 
policy will not guarantee anyone a job, neither teachers 
nor students. But, with an added sense of perspective 
and purpose, we all might work to change that 
structure that weighs so heavily upon us. Small Fu- 
tures, critically read, points to a step in that direction. 



Light on the Obscure 

by W. Anthony Gengarelly 



A Reader's Guide to the Short Stories of Nathaniel 
Hawthorne, by Lea Bertani Vozar Newman. G. K. 
Hall, 380 pp., $32.50. 



For many of us Nathaniel Hawthorne's work is a 
heavy meal of psychological contortion and 
moral ambivalence replete with an odd-tasting 
Gothic style lavishly garnished with allegory and 
historical allusion. Lea Newman's Guide is a successful 
endeavor to bring light out of the seeming darkness of 
Hawthorne's prose by delving into the author's recipes 
and ingredients, by comparing and contrasting his 
own works, and by illuminating the large volume of commen- 
tary which has been written about them. 

She accomplishes her task in a deceptively simple 
manner by concentrating individually on Hawthorne's 
fifty-four short stories. Newman considers each piece as 
a separate unit, allowing the reader to approach one 



story at a time. Yet, within every explanation she 
includes abundant references to seminaf critical studies 
and to other stories and works by Hawthorne. The 
reader is therefore invited to pursue the subject further 
while focusing initially on a small body of material. 
Order and system minimize confusion but sit 1 1 provide 
channels for further investigation. She has, in (act, 
achieved her stated objective to produce a book which 
can "serve bosh as a practical, self-contained guide" for 
the average reader and as a "research tool" for those 
inclined to make an in-depth analysis of Hawthorne's 
fiction. 

NEWMAN divides each story unit into four parts: 
publication history; circumstances of composi- 
tion, sources, and influences; relationship with other 
Hawthorne works; interpretations and criticism. To 
experiment with the Guide I selected three of my 
favorite Hawthorne stories — Ethan Brand, My Kins- 



ia 



man, Major Molineux, and Young Goodman Brown — 
reread them, and then approached the explanations. As 
a Hawthorne buff and student of history, I found the 
sections on circumstances of composition and on 
relationship with other Hawthorne works especially 
valuable. 

I already knew that Hawthorne used New England 
history as a point of reference. I further discovered that 
his account of a witches' Sabbath in Young Goodman 
Brown was not only drawn from the Salem witch hunt 
of 1962, but was also inspired by the author's sense of 
guilt for the deeds of his Puritan ancestor, John 
Halhorne, a judge at the witchcraft trials. Another 
point of historical interest concerns the revolutionary 
setting for My Kinsman, Major Molineux, which 
resembles the Boston rebellion against theStamp Act of 
1765. Yet, the event was chronologically misplaced in 
the story, making it occur around 1735. Newman 
explains this historical inaccuracy as a " 'calculated 
vagueness' ... a part of the distancing Hawthorne felt 
was necessary when dealing with events of the compara- 
tively recent past." Along with these intricacies, I 
discovered that the primary source for Ethan Brand was 
a trip theauthor made to North Adams, Massachusetts, 
between July 26 and September 11, 1838. In the shadow 
of Mount Graylock Hawthorne recorded the characters, 
scenes, and episodes that were later to appear in his 
story of that cursed wanderer, Ethan Brand, which was 
eventually published in 1850. 

A N aspect of Hawthorne's fiction which has always 
intrigued mo is the quest theme. His characters 



often travel in search of something — the "unpardon- 
able sin," their place in the world, the mysteries of evil. 
Newman demonstrates how this theme winds its way 
through Ethan Brand, My Kinsman, Major Molineux, 
and Young Goodman Brown. In each case the journey 
is a rite of initiation that leads along twisted paths to 
dreamlike encounters. Drawing on such classic litera- 
ture as Dante's Inferno, Milton's Paradise Lost, and 
Goethe's Faust, Hawthorne depicts his heroes as fallen 
creatures meandering through the labyrinths of hell 
and returning as significantly altered, but not always 
wiser and better, human beings. Newman's compara- 
tive analysis gives the quest theme an extended signifi- 
cance and, by so doing, suggests other avenues of 
interpretation. For instance, the journey encounter is 
not a mere personal rite experienced by the characters, 
but a social initiation as well, one that might serve as a 
metaphor of American skirmishes with the hellish 
nightmares of an urban-industrial world. 

If my own encounter with Newman's work is any 
indication, she has indeed accomplished her "prag- 
matic" purpose: "If anyone who reads a short story by 
Hawthorne can use this guide to experience the story 
more meaningfully and completely, my project will 
have succeeded," Newman has produced a highly 
effective tool for the appreciation and study of Haw- 
thorne's short stories. 



W . Anthony Gengarelly, Assistant Professor of History 
and Political Science, is a specialist in American 
civilization and literature. 



Ellen Schiff on Theatre 

Harold Pinter's Betrayal and Martin Sherman's Bent: Possibilities of Being 



IT IS purely by alphabetical circumstance that Bent 
and Betrayal have become neighbors in the current 
New York Theatre Directory. The juxtaposition 
is nonetheless felicitous. That determinant initial "B" 
appropriately plays on the verb "be." And Bent and 
Betrayal set out vividly contrasting paradigms of the 
possibilities — especially in time and mood — of being. 
Pinter fans accustomed to taking their delight in 



Ellen Schiff, Professor of French and Comparative 
Literature, is a student of contemporary drama and 
maintains an interest in the literature of the Holocaust. 



what seemed the British playwright's most firmly 
ingrained characteristics may feel betrayed by Betrayal. 
Goneare the menace that lurks in the least likely places 
and the shifting alliances that make it all but impos- 
sible to ascertain what relationships the charac- 
ters have with one another. Gone, loo, is the possibility 
that anything can be simultaneously true and false, a 
premise that deliciously complicates so many Pinter 
plots. 

No such enigmas or ambiguities obscure Betrayal. 
This time Pinter tells the whole story. What's more, he 
tells it backwards. We know in the opening scene 
exactly what's going to happen. All we have to do is 



M 



attend to putting the course of events back into their 
"real" chronological order. 

Thai course of events is starkly banal. It recounts the 
breakup of a lengthy affair that Emma has been having 
with her husband's best friend, Jerry. The kinds of 
betrayals and their effects on the characters are exactly 
what we'd anticipate in this painful bin 
ordinary situation. That predictability 
amounts to yel another departure from 
Pinter custom. The playwright has often 
dramatized betrayal, insinuating it into 
the most common human events: a home- 
coming, the reunion of former room- 
mates, even the relationship between two 
hired killers. Since his first play, The 
Room, the disloyalty of husbands and 
wives (almost always wives) has been one of Pinter's 
most frequent motifs. But until now the disloyalty has 
always been approached on the oblique; il has spread 
stealthily so that by the time its victims recognize it they 
have already been deceived — or worse. No such subtlety 
shades the machinations of Jerry and Emma. 

T Towever, it is the persistence of several of Pinter's 
-*-mosl effective trademarks that raises Betrayal well 
above drawing room comedy, The first is the preemi- 
nence of the room. In play after play Pinter has asked 
both characters and audience to accept the room on 
stage as the sole repository of "the known," Because the 
room is all that is sure, entrances and exits take on an 
air of mystery or of menace; characters seem to be 
moving in or out of a realm unknown and unknow- 
able — and, consequently, unspeakably frightening. Be- 
trayal modifies that contrivance with shadow box 
rooms that swing into place for each scene, carrying the 
actors with them. Or, more accurately, director Peter 
Hall and John Burry, who designed the sets and the 
lighting, open each scene with the characters silhouet- 
ted in semidarkness, juston the edge of the set. They do 
not "come alive" until they plunge into the light of the 
room to live that particular episode. As each room rolls 
into place, we hear the disembodied, superficial clutter 
of a world beyond the play. In Betrayal that world 
outside the room is crueller than it was in the earlier 
works, for here it does not even take the trouble to 
confirm the characters' apprehensions by threatening 
them; rather, it ignores them — quite as if the hurt and 
deception depicted on stage did not exist at all. 

Language is the second Pinter device that works to 
great advantage in Betrayal. By now we have come to 
recognize what can only be called Pinterese. All Pinter 
plays sound like all other Pinter plays — the dialogue 
sometimes halting, occasionally lyric, and always heav- 
ily punctuated with suggestive pauses and silences. 
Paradoxically, although real people rarely talk like 
Pinter personae, few dramatists succeed so brilliantly 




in representing those thoughts that do often lie too 
deep for words, Pinter once described speech as an 
"indication of that which we don't hear," From 
between or behind the speeches in Betrayal there- 
emerge those hesitations which come when confidence 
fails or comprehension lags — the sudden, irrational, 
euphoric hope; the awful . dawning recogni- 
tion of betrayal. Odd how the spectator 
can feel a lump rise in the throat and the 
pulsequicken in response to Jerry'srecol- 
lection of a scene in Emma's kitchen 
when he tossed her small daughter in the 
\ J air, and they listened to her laugh and 

\# laugh with delight. 

Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the New 
York production is the stunning performance of 
its three-member cast, directed by the incomparable 
Peter 1 Iall. One might not expect to find Roy Scheider 
and Raul Julia in an English comedy; no matter, 
Scheider as the cuckolded husband and Julia as his 
wife's lover are just fine. Blythe Danner is marvelously 
appealing and sensitive. For Berkshire theatregoers, it 
is especially rewarding not to see her propelled breath- 
lessly about the stage, as she invariably is by Nikos 
Psacharopoulos in his pursuit of the lastest Chekhov in 
the West. 

With Betrayal, Harold Pinter demonstrates once 
again that he can mine an uncommonly good play out 
of the commonest ore. Nonetheless, the new work falls 
short of the earlier successes where the dramatization of 
the tjuotidian-in-its-room was punctuated with the 
opening and closing of doors which allowed a glimpse 
of the mysterious menace outside. That was a vision 
that triggered an audience's most primitive fears, and 
so created foreboding that transcended the locus of the 
play. Betrayal, by contrast, so engrosses us that we lose 
sight of the terrors that stalk in the beyond. That false 
sense of security lulls us into letting down our guard — 
and so perhaps amounts lb a betrayal of ourselves we 
scarcely anticipate. 

Martin Sherman's Bent, a play about Nazi perse- 
cution of homosexuals, is the kind of work that 
makes the reviewer lament theoveruse of adjectives like 
"powerful" and "gripping." With a coup de theatre at 
the end of the first scent;, Bent grabs its audience in a 
scissors lock that it releases only in the instant before 
the house lights go up. That coup de theatre comes 
when the indigent gay Max reluctantly answers the 
persistent knocking at his door to reveal not his 
importunate Jewish landlord, but two jackbooted SS 
officers, their guns drawn. At this point in the per- 
formance I saw, a husky young man in the audience 
jumped to his feet. In a voice vibrating with anger and 



IS 



(tar, he announced, "1 can't take any more of this sort of 
thing," and left the theatre. 

That theatregoer's emotional reaction blends into 
the loud chorus of outrage, acclaim, bewilderment, and 
soul-searching provoked by both last summer's Lon- 
don run (which premiered at the Royal Court, Pinter's 
"house") and the current New York production. Bent 
is a disconcerting experience. It could hardly be other- 
wise. 

To begin with, homosexuality is a disturbing topic 
most people prefer not to think about. Whatever 
progress modern society has made in learning to 
tolerate unconventional lifestyles, it still tends to 
regard homosexuals as, quite literally, queer. Martin 
Sherman is not the first American playwright to 
recognize dramatic value in that emotionally charged 
attitude, nor is he the first to compound its explosive- 
ncss by bonding it to a second inflammatory distinc- 
tion. That achievement belongs to Mart Crowley. In 
his hard-hitting The Boys in the Band (1968) the most 
alienated of the gays describes himself as an "ugly, 
pockmarked, Jew fairy." Bent goes The Boys in the 
Band one step belter: to homosexuality and anti- 
Semitism it acids the theme of bestiality. 

The very intertwining of those subjects 
has fueled heated controversy. "Whose r x ^ t 
Holocaust?" asked a Village Voice article 
which discussed the sorry competition of 
gays and Jews for the title of "Most ^ 
Oppressed." Protestors claim that by us- 
ing the designation " Jew" quasi-metaphor- 
ically, the play distorts or devalues the 
only valid significance "Jew" can have in the context of 
the Holocaust. What particularly provokes these objec- 
tions is one of Bent's most powerful scenes. In it, Max, 
who is not Jewish, explains to another gay prisoner 
why he is wearing a yellow Star of David, the Jews' 
prison badge, rather than the pink triangle identifying 
the homosexual. Warned in the train bound for the 
camp that Jews were treated better than gays, the 
resolute Max "tools" his captors and "proves" he is 
straight by performing an act so loathsome his reci- 
tation of it sends shock waves throughout the theatre. 
To take umbrage at his falsification, to bristle at the 
suggestion that Jews received preferential treatment in 
the camps, is to ignore history, not to mention the rest 
of Sherman's play. Bent makes it abundantly clear that 
cunning, bribes, and even extraordinary determination 
were futiie defenses against extermination. 

The deals that Max makes at Dachau are not all 
repugnant or self-serving. lit? manages, for exam- 



ple, the transfer of Hoist, another gay, to rhe job he's 
been assigned, moving an enormous pile of rocks from 
one place to another, and back again. The task, while 
"safe," is patiently designed to drive prisoners mad, yet 
the rock-moving sequences bring out the best in Max 
and Horst. Like Camus" Sisyphus, they find that the 
experience challenges their imagination to defy the 
inanity and arduousness of the work. Their affirmation 
of life-sustaining values is demonstrated in a scene that 
is explicit in every sense of the word. During an 
enforced three-minute rest break, standing perhaps six 
feet apart under a blazing sun and the eyes of their 
guard, Max and Horst deliberately recall sensuality, 
then engage in verbal intercourse that brings them both 
to orgasm. For these Dachau inmates it is a moment of 
real triumph. "They're not going to kill us," exults 
Horst. "We made love. We were real. We were human." 

However, Horst's optimism is eroded by deteriorat- 
ing physical and mental health. Max's most imagina- 
tive ploys fail to revive him; ultimately, he is killed 
before his friend's eyes. Horst's death results in an 
epiphany for Max. Although he had always prided 
himself on being in control, on never needing anybody 
else, Max now realizes that he loved Horst and, before 

him, others wdiom he never told. The 

sorrow of the irretrievable and the inhu- 
j t r manity of Dachau overwhelm him. Care- 

_ t . . fully, he removes his yellow Star of David 

and replaces it with Horst's pink tri- 
^ angle. Then he throws himself against 

" the electrified fence. 

Bent is often sensational, occasionally 

melodramatic, and, for any number of 
reasons, deeply troubling. Richard Gere as Max is not 
altogether convincing, but then, a concentration camp 
inmate who does pushups in his barracks after a day on 
the rock pile is not easy to believe. David Dukes turns in 
a first-rate performance as the high-principled Horst, a 
man content to be what he is. The play itself lacks 
coherence in that Sherman veers from the persecution 
of gays in the action-packed first act to a much 
narrower focus in the second on the emotional (and 
distinctly metaphoi ic) problems of the intensely inter- 
esting Max. Whatever its structural inconsistencies, the 
play delineates unforgettably the rigors of being hell- 
bent to survive as "bent" in that world where Nazism 
determined who was "straight." Inevitably, it leaves 
audiences wondering just how far we've come since 
then. 



The drawings in this issue are by Leon Peters, North 
Adams State College's graphic artist, and Susan 
Morris, who resides in East Dover, Vermont. 



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